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Review: Ubuntu 20.04

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Ubuntu

Ubuntu, along with its many community flavours, is one of the world's mostly widely used Linux distributions. Ubuntu ships four official editions (Desktop, Server, Cloud, and a minimal Core). There are additional community editions which provide alternative desktop and configuration options. Just over a week ago, Canonical launched Ubuntu 20.04 which offers five years of support for official editions and three years of support for community editions.

The new Ubuntu release includes version 5.4 of the Linux kernel and support for WireGuard. The Desktop edition ships with GNOME 3.36 as the default desktop and includes experimental support for installing the operating system on the ZFS advanced filesystem. The release announcement mentions that, along with ZFS, Ubuntu will offer “state saving” of the filesystem using a tool called Zsys. From the context, it sounds as though “state saving” here means taking filesystem snapshots as we are also told ZFS integrates with the GRUB boot loader in order to allow users to rollback system changes. (This is a similar feature to the boot environments provided by openSUSE and FreeBSD.) This version of Ubuntu ships with Python 3.8, though Python 2.7 (while unsupported upstream) is available in the distribution's repositories.

The Desktop edition of Ubuntu is a 2.5GB download. Booting from the supplied media will, if we do not interfere, load a graphical environment where we can choose to try a live desktop environment or immediately launch Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer. At the start of the boot process we can press a key to bring up a menu where we can preemptively choose to run the live desktop or load the installer directly. (Practically this does not make a difference and just means we are making our choice to try or install the distribution from a text-based boot menu rather than a graphical welcome screen.) While the operating system is loading it performs an integrity check on the local media to make sure the operating system was not corrupted during the download. We can optionally skip the media check by pressing Ctrl-C.

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